Growing leader: Do you REALLY want to grow?
When I was in college, I had the goal to finish as quickly as possible. I wanted to spend as little time as possible in school, ironically, as I write this I have just started back to school for a Master’s Degree. My first semester of college I planned out when I needed to work on papers, when I needed to study, etc. I planned it down to the day and was able to finish all my papers and assignments two full weeks before the end of the semester. It was great, but it was the only semester that happened. The next semester I got involved in college life, ministry teams, etc. and never got around to making a plan. So I was scrambling at the end of the semester to get everything done. The start of my second year I declared that I wasn’t going to do it like I did last semester, but I did. Again I was scrambling to get things done. Next semester – same declaration and same results. My last year was no different. I remember declaring for my last semester (no I didn’t skip time – I finished in three years) “Woohoo! My last semester of doing it this way!” By this point I only had three months left, why change now? All to often individuals say that they want change, but they don’t really mean it. They say they want to grow, but don’t really want to go through the process or research to find out where they can grow.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why people do this and I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. Now I don’t think this is a definitive answer to the questions – just a couple of key things I think hold people back. The first reason that people say they want to change, but don’t actually change is that don’t really think they need to change. Sure they say it to those around them, they may even say it to themselves – but when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road and they see all the effort it’s going to take to bring about change and decide it’s not worth the effort, or they aren’t really that bad, or it’s worked for them this long so why do it? It’s either laziness or arrogance.
I know in my past I’ve looked at things and figured it was “good enough” and didn’t need to make the change. For me it’s been arrogance or the hubris of ignorance. (Nice phrase huh?) I didn’t seek change because I was doing pretty good and had it mostly figured out. I’ve often looked back at opportunities to learn that I passed up because I didn’t think there was anything to learn there. In college I could have worked with Dick Gruber, one of the best Children’s Pastor out there, but instead I decided to go do my own thing at a small church. It’s always easy to look back and ask “what if?” I can’t change the past and God has blessed me, but what lessons could I have learned the easy way over the hard way if I had been willing to put down my own way of doing things and let someone help me grow?
I think the second reason that people don’t pursue change or growth is that they don’t know how. They either don’t know where they need to grow or they don’t know how to get beyond where they are now. The great news for those in this position is that help is out there (for those in the first position, it usually takes a hard hit to the head to bring about a change). There is nothing wrong with not knowing – there is something wrong with not trying to find out. We all have weaknesses and blind spots, that’s why relationships and teams are so important. Teammates can help you see spots for growth. As my friend Jim Wideman says: “Everyone does better with a coach.”
So which one are you? Do you avoid change and growth because deep down you don’t really think you need to change? Or do you just not see the areas where you can grow? Pray about it, think about it, ask some friends – because next week we start talking about how to be a growing leader and the areas where a growing leader needs to focus.